In a rare interview, legendary musician Hugh Masekela sat down with TshisaLIVE in July 2017, just months before his death on Tuesday.
Journalist Chrizelda Kekana spoke to Bra Hugh about the reason he was so selective with media interviews and his desire to do what he was passionate about. Bra Hugh told TshisaLIVE that he just wanted to impart his knowledge and didn't bother too much about his "legacy". "I don't have any ambitions [about my legacy]. I just feel that it's work that I am supposed to do, otherwise my ancestors will punish me. Why? Because I got so much from them. But I don't have an ambitious future about 'Hugh Masekela's legacy'."
Bra Hugh said he knew he was living through his "bonus" years and wanted to live it day by day. "I don't want to live beyond where I am now… and I live it day by day. And, I think once you get too involved with your legacy and all that sh*t, you are swallowed by your own ego."
“There will never be another Hugh Masekela. That’s how cruel death is but of course all of us will follow soon or later. We see a lot of people close to us passing on but we never come to terms with death or get used to it. It always in one way or the other break our hearts. It is death, a situation whereby a person vanishes from your eyes and from the surface of earth forever. Simply put, death shocks and devastates us. It’s a fact, THE LEGENDARY HUGH MASEKELA IS NO MORE.”
On Tuesday, Monageng co-owner of Millennium Jazz restaurant and host of a jazz music show on Gabz FM every Sunday dubbed “The Joy of Jazz” remembers seeing a Facebook post from one Shike Olsen in the early morning of Tuesday, when Bra Hugh died – “Am I the only one getting the reports that Bra Hugh has passed on? I hope this is a hoax.”
“Of course Shike was not the only one who had heard of the passing on of our beloved father, grandfather, brother, uncle and great music teacher, composer, arranger and performer and activist par excellence. Indeed a lot of people had already come across the shocking and unfortunate news but just that many were still reeling at the news of his death, with shock.”
Affectionately known as Uncle Shima, the avid jazz aficionado added, “For a fact we all wish to celebrate the lives of people who have done it all in life, touched our hearts and impacted positively on us but as human beings, the first inevitable feeling you get is that of sorrow and grief before pulling yourself together and thinking of celebrating the person’s life! It’s natural to grief under such circumstances and I’m among those who find nothing wrong with people who mourn and grief the passing of their beloved ones and even do so by crying. I say to such persons, yes, go on and cry, so long as you don’t mourn and grief forever.”
On Tuesday night, Seabelo Modibe reminded us on his Facebook post to watch a tribute and repeat of Hugh Masekela’s live performance at the Market Theatre via Mzansi Magic Music channel and oh boy, what a spiritual and moving performance of the man we will never meet again on this planet.”
“He was accompanied on stage by the likes of Khaya Mahlangu on saxophone, our very own Bro Blackie John Selolwane on lead guitar, Bass was Fana Zulu and Ezbie Moilwa from Mafikeng etc. I fully concur with Seabelo when he continued to say ‘Dear Hon President… (Sic)…Your Excellency President Mokgweetsi Masisi, please honour this man with a badge, let the Presidential Honours be bigger in 2018.’ However, I would like to advocate that let’s honour them whilst they are still alive especially in direct reference to Bro John Selolwane who has been arguably Botswana’s music ambassador.”
“Another friend of mine Mcjon Mosenene posited ‘The Choo Choo has stopped moving. The flugelhorn has gone silent. Jazz has been thrown into darkness.” “My humble request would be to humbly invite Bro Jonas Gwangwa to sing, ‘Don’t let the sun dawn on you’. I say this because within a short period, we have lost a number of great musicians in the likes of Ray Phiri of Stimela, Soares Katumbela, Errol Dyers and many others. Indeed a true legend has fallen – one of the great Architects of Afro Jazz. He had a soft spot for Batswana. He taught and mentored many. He has performed in this country more than any South African legend I have known.”
“He was to perform yet again at the Hamptons in March this year but his deteriorating health got in the way. I have told a couple of my friends including the late Soares (MHSRIP) that Bra Hugh didn’t take nonsense from anybody. My first close encounter with him many years back was at Moretele Park’s Joy of Jazz Festival where he was performing. The sound was not good and he played only two songs and left the stage saying the show promoter may keep his money and he would keep his music. After many other groups had performed, the sound was next to perfection and the jazz maestro came back on stage and did what does best.”
“In one of his shows in Botswana, we went back stage with a number of friends to wait for him so that we could greet him. While on stage, he spotted us waiting back stage. There was this pretty lady who stood there with us. The lady was a bit excited and kept on shouting Hugh Masekela’s name. Bra Hugh looked back and said loudly on the mike – ‘You are making noise and you should say Bra Hugh because I’m not your cousin. Also go and take off that dead people's hair (Tsamaya oye go ntsha moriri oo wa baswi).’ The poor lady cried, embarrassed and went to her car and slept throughout the entire show.”
“I also remember at one point at one of his shows where I was not spared. I was talking to him and standing very close to him and he loudly said, ‘Guys, please tell Shimmy that I don’t need his showers! This meant as I was talking drops of saliva oozed out of my mouth. I was truly embarrassed but unlike the lady I didn’t cry or leave the festival. Bro Hugh, the Father of South Africa Jazz, was a marvel to watch on stage. Even at the time when he was living in the evening of his days, he could be seen going down (maget-down) on stage better than those who were half his age.
Rest in Peace Bra Hugh for you have seen it all, done it all and you were larger than life. You enjoyed life to the fullest and you taught us a lot and your music will live on forever since you are leaving behind scores of incredible albums. There will never be another Hugh Masekela.” â€¨Uncle Shima – The Joy of Jazz, Gabz FM
This book is a true-life story of an African King based in South Africa. The Last Frontier is a resistance stand by Bakgatla Ba Kgafela tribe and its line of Kings from 1885 against a dark force called ‘western democracy’ that is insidiously destroying lives, peoples, nations and threatens to wipe away whole civilizations in Africa.
The story flows through four important episodes of history, beginning in about 1885 when Bechuanaland Protectorate was formed. This section briefly reveals interactions between Kgosi Linchwe 1 and the British Colonial Government, leading to the establishment of Bakgatla Reserve by Proclamations of 1899 – 1904.
The second episode deals with Kgosi Molefi’s interaction with the British Colonial Government in the period of 1929-36. The third episode records Kgosi Linchwe II’s interactions with the British Colonial Government and black elites of Bechuanaland. It covers the period of 1964-66, leading to Botswana’s independence. Kgosi Linchwe ii resisted the unlawful expropriation of his country (Bakgatla Reserve) by Sir Seretse Kgama’s government of 1966 to no avail. He wrote letters of objection (December 1965) to Her Majesty the Queen of England, which are reproduced in this book.
The fourth episode covers the period between Kgafela Kgafela II’s crowning as King of Bakgatla in 2008 to 2021. It is a drama of the author’s resistance to the present-day Botswana Government, a continuation of Bakgatla Kings’ objection against losing Bakgatla country to the Kgama dynasty assisted by the British Government since 1885. The story is told with reference to authentic letters, documents, and Court records generated during the period of 1885-2019. There is plenty of education in history, law, and politics contained in The Last Frontier for everyone to learn something and enjoy.
Hailed for being the prime gospel concert after the Covid-19 pandemic had put events to a halt, Golden Relic, in conjunction with Sweet Brands, recently unveiled the Arise and Worship Concert, Botswana. The show marks the return of worshippers and fans to enjoy music and worship together after what seemed like “cooler box” events were taking over the entertainment scene.
The concert to be held on December 11th 2021, at the Molapo Showcase, has a packed lineup with the Headlining acts being Bishop Benjamin Dube, Lebo Sekgobela from South Africa and Botswana’s very own Obakeng Sengwaketse. More international acts from Nigeria and Ghana are also expected to grace the event. The show organizers have invested an effort in diversifying the lineup with live performances.
The promoter of the Arise and Worship Concert, David “DVD” Abram revealed in an overview of the event that; “We have lost a lot of loved ones this year, and when that happens, one’s spirit goes down, and we need a light to ground us once more, to heal our souls. Therefore, the two main purposes of this event are to do the work of God and, secondly, to make sure that we nurture and develop talent in Botswana. With challenges that come up with events of such magnitude, the team and I have been committed to seeking guidance from God through having night prayers.”
Abram added that as promoters, they usually have a bias towards already established artists, thus neglecting the upcoming ones and wanting to change that. “We approached the Melody Gospel TV Show since we aim at nurturing new talent and agreed on having one of the winners as a headliner for the event to allow them to share the stage with gospel giants so that they are exposed to the industry. This resulted in securing the Second Winner of the Melody Gospel TV show; Thabiso Mafoko as a local headlining act.”
The concert also aims at celebrating a Motswana. Multi-Award Winner; with the most recent title; BOMU Best Traditional Gospel under his belt, also best known for his soulful voice and heartfelt lyrics, Obakeng Sengwaketse enthusiastically said, “I want to thank the organizers of the Arise and Worship concert, it means a lot to me after recently winning two awards that are currently the highlight of my career.
I regard this as a great revival because the Covid-19 pandemic has muffled events such as this. I am looking forward to sharing the stage with the great Bishop Benjamin Dube, Lebo Sekgobela and more artists from Nigeria and Ghana. Sengwaketsi urged Batswana to come and witness the greatness of the Lord as their lives will never be the same.”
Tickets are selling like fat cakes with VVIP tickets having only five tickets remaining; the VVIP tickets include rounder access backstage to all the performing artists. The event will also comprise a seated Gold Circle Ticket, which accounts for 50% of revellers to allow for easier enforcement of COVID-19 protocols and avoid a potential stampede.
In a bid to entice merrymakers to buy tickets, the promoters have come up with a layby strategy and buying tickets on an instalment basis for the attendees to be able to buy their tickets since the COVID-19 Pandemic has left many Batswana in financial ruin but having the interest to attend the event.
One can only imagine what is like being in the public eye. It is not a walk in the park; and not as easy as people might think it is because of the pressure from the public. Celebrities or influencers are perceived to be perfect, perfect bodies, perfect families, perfect parents, financially stable, healthy, and always smiling and patient with everyone – Is this for real?
However, when people’s expectations of celebrities are not met, the same celebrities are often victimized, body shamed, or blamed, fairly or unfairly. As a result of them not having a personal life, they are often scrutinized in all aspects of their lives; their lives are aired for the public to see and judge. Celebrities are often extra careful about everything that they do, they have to go an extra mile as compared to how ordinary people live their lives.
To understanding this experiences by public figures, this reporter made a case study of Mr Lizibo Gran Mabutho, the firstborn in his family with only one sibling, his younger brother. Lizibo describes himself as a simple Kalanga guy who was chosen by music and did not choose music.
He said being raised by his mother and grandmother, he grew up surrounded by music from birth. Lizibo said his grandmother was a religious person who held church services at their house in Zwenshambe, “for me singing was from Monday to Sunday. I was not like any ordinary child who only sang at church on Sundays or sometimes in school assembly, for me it was a daily thing. My mother was also a talented dancer in our village that is what I mean when I say I did not choose music, but music chose me.”
Lizibo said though he grew up surrounded by music, it was hard for his parents to accept the path he has chosen to be a musician. Lizibo said he had to prove to his parents that music was his passion and that it could pay the bills like any other profession. He said eventually they saw his passion for music and supported him.
Lizibo said being exposed to music from a tender age made him venture into the music career from a tender age. He said he was part of the Kgalemang Tumediso Motsete (KTM) choir, Lizibo said being in the public eye for the longest time has taught him that he is living for the people and that he does not have a life. He said the very society that is watching him has so much expectation for him and that means he has to conduct himself in a good manner because people are looking up to him.
Lizibo said he understands the saying that great power comes with great responsibility, “when people see me, they see a role model. I realize and understand that people are and have been modelling me even when I was not aware of it, I know of six mothers who have named their sons after me because they felt that I inspire them somehow.”
He said he has accepted his fate that he will never have a normal life because people are looking unto him. He said he is grateful to be in the public on a positive note by bringing hope to the people because he has always wanted to be part of people’s solutions and not their problems.
He said, “people should understand that our careers are our calling. One needs to be spiritually connected to their calling as an artist. The most rewarding part about being in the public for me is not about payment but about being the solution to someone’s problem.”
Lizibo said the greatest challenge that he has ever faced about being in the public eye has been the issue of trust, not able to know which friends are genuine and which ones are not. He said as a way of avoiding fake friends he has always kept his four close friends who have been there for him through thick and thin. Lizibo said being close to his family has also helped him as they have been his strength when things were not going well for him, “most of the time people say we change when we taste fame. That is not necessarily true because people are the ones who changed when we became famous. People always want something from us, nothing is ever genuine with people and that is why I chose to keep my circle very small.”
Lizibo said as much as he travels a lot because of the nature of his work because it is naturally demanding, he said he always ensures that he creates time for his family. He said that at home he is Lizibo who is sent to do errands, he is Lizibo the son, not a celebrity.
He said there is a lot of pressure that comes with being in the spotlight, “the public puts so much pressure on us mostly about the material lifestyle they portray us to have. We are often compared with South African celebrities, but people fail to understand that we are two different countries. Most people fell into the trap and are living above their means resulting in them living in debt. I often tell youngsters not to fall into that trap of being tempted to live life above their means.”
The advice Lizibo gave to upcoming celebrities was that they should know that being in the public is not about them, but it is about the people. He said, “one of my mentors once asked me if I make music about myself or the people. He said I need to make music for the people because it is my responsibility to feed them with what they need, he said they might not even be able to know that they have a need but that I need to identify that need and meet it. Our responsibility is to serve people what they need, our music is to feed people’s hunger. My music is about love, I feed people love.”
Lizibo said it is important for celebrities to seek counselling and take care of their mental health, he said he has been investing in his mental health for years because he understands the importance of mental health especially when one is in the public.